Independent production house Urucu Media, the company behind the multiple award-winning drama Necktie Youth, could not have asked for a stronger start for their latest film.
The Wound will make its world premiere in Salt Lake City, Utah on 22 January as part of the official selection for the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Then, in February, the film will have its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it has been selected to open the Panorama programme, described on the festival's website as a selection that aims to "provide insight on new directions in art house cinema.
"Traditionally, auteur films - movies with an individual signature - form the heart of the programme," which was conceived in order to "take quality independent film out of its niche into the spotlight of the international market", the website explains.
"We could not have wished for a stronger start for The Wound," producer Elias Ribeiro said in a statement. "We will have the spotlight in two top festivals in North America and Europe, and that bodes well for the film's future."
Tackling traditional conceptions of manhood
The debut feature from Johannesburg-based director John Trengove, The Wound tells the story of Xolani, a lonely Xhosa factory worker who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers Xolani's best-kept secret, his entire existence begins to unravel.
Co-written by Trengove, Thando Mgqolozana and Malusi Bengu, the film demonstrates once more Urucu Media's willingness to tackle challenging social issues while nurturing new voices in South African film.
"I was interested in what happens when groups of men come together and organise themselves outside of society and the codes of their everyday lives," Trengove said in a statement.
"I wanted to show the intense emotional and physical exchanges that are possible in these spaces, and how repressing strong feelings leads to a kind of toxicity and violence. As an outsider to this culture, it was important that I approach this story from the perspective of characters who are themselves outsiders, who struggle to conform to the status quo of which they are part."
The Wound stars multi-talented musician and novelist Nakhane Touré in his first film role, alongside Bongile Mantsai and Niza Jay Ncoyini.
A co-production between South Africa, Germany, The Netherlands and France, it was developed with the assistance of The Hubert Bals Fund and ARTE International Prize, as well as support from the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Film and Video Foundation and the World Cinema Fund.